One of the best entrees for large gatherings is the classic beef roast. No matter what the cut, if it has been broiled or roasted, the flavors are unbeatable. Picking a wine that is goes along with it can be tricky because many cabernet sauvignons are a little too big and bold for beef that has been slow cooked.
But believe it or not, one of the best wine varietals to pair with roast beef is merlot. Sure, many merlots lack the character and body to go well with beef, but there are some that are big enough for the task. What is the flavor to look for? Pick one with a big ripe berry and plum bouquet, good follow through on the palate plus a little tartness with a tannic finish, and you’ve got it. Easier said than done!
It’s true, you can sit at a Merlot tasting at many wine outlets all afternoon and be treated to one bland experience after another. However, if they are pouring merlots from the Columbia River Valley in Washington State, St. Helena California, or Dry Creek Valley California, the experience will be anything but bland. Sure, there are other regions that will pass (like Bordeaux France), but these new world merlots reliably deliver.
One of the most consistent year-after-year are the Northstar offerings. They are not 100% merlot, but have a small amount of cab and petit verdot, to go right along with a rib roast with just enough mellowness not to overpower the entree. The smooth long finish is an extra flavor bonus that is perfect with the deep flavors brought out in slow cooked beef.
You can find Northstar merlot at AJs in the $30-$40 price range. The 2006 vintage year is currently available with the 2007 on request because it has recently made it into distribution.
These serve well ever so slightly chilled after 20 minutes in the fridge (about 65 degrees).